John “Iwan” Demjanjuk was at the center of one of history’s most complex war crimes trials. But why did it take almost sixty years for the United States to bring him to justice as a Nazi collaborator?
The answer lies in the annals of the Cold War, when fear and paranoia drove American politicians and the U.S. military to recruit “useful” Nazi war criminals to work for the United States in Europe as spies and saboteurs, and to slip them into America through loopholes in U.S. immigration policy. During and after the war, that same immigration policy was used to prevent thousands of Jewish refugees from reaching the shores of America.
The long and twisted saga of John Demjanjuk, a postwar immigrant and auto mechanic living a quiet life in Cleveland until 1977, is the final piece in the puzzle of American government deceit. The White House, the Departments of War and State, the FBI and the CIA supported policies that harbored Nazi war criminals and actively worked to hide and shelter them from those who dared to investigate and deport them.
The heroes in this story are men and women such as Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman and Justice Department prosecutor Eli Rosenbaum, who worked for decades to hold hearings, find and investigate alleged Nazi war criminals, and successfully prosecute them for visa fraud. But it was not until the conviction of John Demjanjuk in Munich in 2011 as an SS camp guard serving at the Sobibor death camp that this story of deceit can be told for what it is: a shameful chapter in American history.
Riveting and deeply researched, Useful Enemies is the account of one man’s criminal past and its devastating consequences, and the story of how America sacrificed its moral authority in the wake of history’s darkest moment.
black & white illustrations
black & white illustrations
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read a tense, informed cry for justice by the author of Useful Enemies in the Daily Beast last weekend and have spent a good deal of the week reading this harrowing account of how the United State willingly invited war criminals into our country with the purpose of using them as spies on what were the Eastern Bloc countries whose activities were of compelling interest to our intelligence community. To this end, we (the U.S.) denied entry to thousands of Jewish war refugees. Alas, it is now almost too late to exact any justice against the majority of these war criminals; however, the book still makes the powerful point that all too often a country puts its own political and diplomatic interests ahead of what is humane and necessary for survival of the dispossessed citizens of the world.
When Rashke painstakingly details the atrocities that some of these criminals committed, one can only shudder to think that these monsters were actually allowed asylum in our very own...
I knew about some of the incidents revealed in the important book, as will many readers. BUT you will surprised and angered about the new relevations, and fascinated by how the author strings the chain of events together in such a logical, informed and passionate way. A must read for everyone interested in Holocaust history and American history. It is almost a detective story, as Rashke puts all the pieces together. A brilliant book.
I had read Escape From Sobibor and appreciated the immense amount of work that had gone into it. It's clear that Useful Enemies is no less of a labour of love. Beyond that, it is very difficult to compare the two books. They tell very different stories. Although both are biographical works surrounding time in the camps, the circumstances are so very different that I found it best, for the sake of clarity, to try not to think back to my reading of Escape From Sobibor.
The book tells of John Demjanjuk who, after moving to the United States, was accused of being `Iwan the Terrible' who had caused immense suffering to those under his supervision. In reviewing this, and Demjanjuk's subsequent experiences once it had been determined that he was not Iwan the Terrible, the book really covers three main areas:
1) Demjanjuk's life, role in WWII and the Holocaust and the morality of his own actions. It also raises many questions about the strain that the allegations and...
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